Category Archives: Songs

Goodbye, Paddy

Sad news yesterday with the death of Paddy Moloney, the founder of The Chieftains. He was 83.

I was woefully ignorant of traditional music until I moved to Winnipeg in 1980 and went to the Winnipeg Folk Festival for the first time. I never saw the Chieftans live, but their influence on folk and traditional music is immense.

One of my favorite Chieftains albums is one they did with Nancy Griffith and Roger Daltrey. The following is a video of the whole live performance at the Belfast Opera House in 1992. Do watch it all. It is magical. My favorite part is at the very end with Nancy singing “Ford Econoline”.

I remember hearing the story about Derrick Bell, the harpist, who was criticized by some classical musician colleagues for going off and joining “some tatty folk group” when he joined the Chieftains. So glad he did! We need more “tatty folk groups” like the Chieftains.

Ok, Baboons, let’s hear some of your favorite traditional music of Ireland and the British Isles. Why is it so appealing? Have you ever played the pipes?

He Said She Said

I spent an hour or so at Urgent Care yesterday (not a big deal – just wanted to be reassured that my self care was OK and to get a tetanus booster.

While waiting I noticed a woman go in and out of the UC door a few times; she was wearing a Darth Vader smock.  Long gone are the days when everybody is required to wear white!  When it turned out that she was the nurse who was going to rewrap my hand and give me my shot, I was elated.  I told her how much I like her smock and she told me about her other Leia smock.  We traded our favorite quotes from Star Wars.  Since she is a Darth fan, hers is “I find your lack of faith disturbing.”   I like that one but I do gravitate to Yoda “ Do.  Or do not.  There is no try.”

On the way home I was thinking about this encounter (which was really the highlight of my day) and how many times I use quotes from my favorite movies.

  • “On the side.” When Harry Met Sally
  • “Badges? We don’t need no stinkin’ badges.”  Treasure of the Sierra Madre
  • “You know, assholes.” Blazing Saddles
  • “Candygram for Mongo.” Blazing Saddles (You’d be surprised how often you can make this work.)
  • “You overestimate both of us.” People Will Talk
  • “Snap out of it.” Moonstruck
  • “Be afraid. Be very afraid.”  The Fly
  • “There will be blood tonight.” Princess Bride
  • “We are men of action. Lies do not become us.”  Princess Bride  (Note: I say this to myself.  Not aloud.)
  • “You keep using that word, I do not think it means what you think it means.” Princess Bride   (Again, never said outloud.  And I say it to myself with Mandy Patinkin’s accent.)
  • “Now they’re practical.” Romancing the Stone
  • “Not exactly firing on all thrusters.” Star Trek IV
  • “Fun fun fun til her/your daddy takes the T-Bird away.” (yes, I know this a song not a movie, but, what the heck, it’s my blog post…..)

Any quotes from movies (or tv or book or songs) that you find yourself using in every life?

 

 

 

Early retirement

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Peterchiapperino

Working for the State of ND can be a pretty good deal if you stay long enough. They have good benefits and the option of participating in a 357 plan (the government version of a 401K plan). There is also a pension plan, and as it currently works, you can retire with a full pension when your age and years of service add up to 85. That means, depending on when you start, that you could retire well before the Federal retirement age for your cohort.

I reached the Rule of 85 on June 1st of this year. I have decided to not retire now and work three more years until I also can receive full Social Security benefits.

Husband reached the Rule of 85 in 2014, and promptly retired and started working on the Reservation. Just last week, he filled out another application with the State to work 10 hours a week at the Human Service Center in Bismarck. He is the only applicant. We presume he will get the job. That means he will be a “Double Dipper”, someone with a pension who also works part time for the State. He is excited.

I was tickled to read that Tony Bennett, age 95, has finally decided to stop touring and retire. I also understand that he has Dementia. How wonderful that he could work so long and like what he was doing. Husband feels he needs a real paycheck, not just Social Security and his pension. When I am done in three years, I want to be done. No extra work, nothing. Husband had better realize that I am not putting up with his working until he is 95!

How long did you imagine you would work? Is retirement a positive concept for you? What are your favorite memories of Tony Bennett?

Party Time

Last week was full of more social gatherings for us than we have had in more than a year. At an outdoor ceremony at a city park, Husband and other officers for the local food pantry accepted a cheque from the city for a new security system. Husband got to rub elbows with city officials, Rotarians, former university presidents, and other local worthies. He then did some church visiting to a shut-in couple we haven’t seen for months. It culminated in a wonderful party on Saturday night in Mandan at a city park about 10 miles outside of town at a man-made reservoir.

Dear friends of ours, the ones who gave us the Arikara bean seeds, celebrated their 27th wedding anniversary. They are a couple older than we are, in their early 70’s. He is Native American. She is white. They are both addiction counselors. They renewed their wedding vows with the help of family, friends, former colleagues, and an Indian Elvis Impersonator from Oklahoma. The party was held in a large, open air picnic shelter.

There was plenty of food provided by the couple and kept hot in huge electric roasters. Guests brought food, too. It was a real pot luck feast. There were about 50 people in attendance. The trick was keeping one’s self hydrated and the perishables cool, since the temperature, at 5:00 PM, was 103. I feared for Elvis in his white jump suit. He sang and danced and gyrated despite the heat.

Elvis was fascinating. He is a member of the Choctaw nation and also is an actor and traditional dancer. Our friend found him by searching YouTube videos under the name NDN Elvis. He sang to a prerecorded accompaniment so he didn’t need a live back up band. He also conducted the renewal ceremony. A former tribal councilman read selections from the Bible. There were flower bouquets, sage bundles, and sweet grass braids. Family had made a photo display of the couple’s years together.

The only thing that didn’t work out was the Indian flute player, Keith Bear. He is a rather well known Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation musician. You can find him on You Tube, too. He had to travel unexpectedly to the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota to help with the passing of a notable spiritual leader who was present at Wounded Knee. There always seems to be at least one thing that doesn’t go as planned at a big party.

Tell some wedding or anniversary party stories. What worked? What didn’t? What would you want an Elvis Impersonator to sing at your party?

Intro to the Classics

We had a lovely time last weekend with our son and his family. We were busy with cooking and eating and visiting and all the things you do when there is a three year old in the house. Grandson loves to dance and has a pretty good sense of melody and pitch, so I thought it would be fun to introduce him to some classical music.

We have a CD of Peter and the Wolf and The Carnival of the Animals performed by the Vienna Philharmonic and duo pianists Alfons and Aloys Kontarsky, with Karl Bohm conducting. Both are narrated by Hermione Gingold. I love her voice and expressiveness. She sounds so plummy, except when she drops into Cockney when she gets to the part where the wolf eats the duck “And he swallowed her rye tup!” The Carnival text was some cheesy poems by Oden Nash, but even that was ok with her narrating.

Grandson loved the stories. We acted out the motions of the animals with the music. He thought being the wolf was the best, even better than being Peter. It is so much fun to howl and roar, you see, even when you are being taken to the zoo. He especially liked marching to the lion’s music and roaring, jumping like the kangaroos, and waltzing like the elephants. I told him to imagine that the finale of Carnival was music for the monkeys in the zoo.

As we were saying our goodbyes on Monday, Grandson rather spontaneously called out from his car seat “Thank you for the lions and the wolfs, and the elephants, Oma”. I was pretty touched, and thought we had a pretty good intro to some good music.

What was your first introduction to classical music? What are your favorite classical compositions? How would you introduce them to a three year old?

Songs to plant beans by

If any Baboons chance to drive past my house today, they might see a strange sight. They might see me and hear me singing in the garden.

Last winter we got some Arikara bean seeds from a friend of ours from the Reservation. They are a bush bean that produces brown shellout beans. Our friend got them from a tribal elder some time ago. He is a pretty marginal gardener and he gave us the beans to grow in our garden. He is very excited for us to grow them, but he said there were a few things I had to do in order to plant them successfully.

First, I have to wear an apron and a scarf while I plant them. He told me his grandmother wore that when she planted and she was a good gardener. Second, I have to sing to the beans when I plant them. He wasn’t sure of the tune, since his grandmother whistled a barely discernible tune through her teeth while she planted. Oh, and I should make up some words to go with the song. He said not to worry if our Hidatsa pole beans felt jealous. They would be just fine.

My friend’s bean planting instructions are just like the directions he gives to find places on the Reservation-without GPS or a map you would never find your way.

I asked another Native friend what she would sing to the beans, and she said it was important that I compliment them. She is from the Cheyenne River Reservation and is Lakota. (In the same conversation I asked her the address of her new house. She said she wasn’t sure, but I could find it if I went down that one alley, the one with the 15 cats, and then turned left.) I mentioned her lyric suggestion to my bean bestowing friend, and he totally disagreed (Arikara and Lakota rarely agree), saying I had to plead with the beans when I planted them, telling them how much our survival depends on them.

I chose the tune to the Glow-Worm song, and came up with these lyrics:

Grow pretty beans, please heed us, heed us.

We need you so to feed us, feed us.

You’ll make us strong, please don’t take long, so grow pretty  beans, please grow

Part of me thinks that my Native friends are pulling my leg, but hey, if it helps the garden, why not?

Make up some bean growing lyrics. Choose whatever tune you wish. How are you at giving directions?

RIP Johnny Crawford

Johnny Crawford was one of my idols when I was a kid.  Although he is best known for his role as Mark McCain on The Rifleman, he was a very busy young man, appearing in not just Mickey Mouse Clubhouse but a myriad of other movies and tv shows.

He also had a musical career with several of his songs making it to the top ten on the charts.  His most famous was Cindy’s Birthday.

He appeared on the rodeo circuit for a time; apparently he was a master at rope tricks, which he had learned during his years on western/cowboy pictures.  He served in the armed forces for a few years as well, but kept returning to acting.  His last picture was a piece with Chuck Conners in which the roles from The Rifleman were reprised.  Apparently Johnny and Chuck had remained close in all the years since their television show.

Crawford’s career was cut off when he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2019.  Sadly he passed away from complications of Covid last week.  He was apparently a really nice person and had a beautiful smile right up until the end.

Who did you have a crush on when you were younger?  (Or now for that matter!)

Organizing a Salon

I read an interesting review the other day a of new Classical CD, “Music in Proust’s Salons”, in which Steven Isserlis, the cellist, recorded pieces written by contemporaries of Marcel Proust. Proust loved organizing small concerts following fancy meals at elegant Paris restaurants. Pieces by Faure, Franck, Hahn, and Chabrier figure prominently in Proust’s selections for his guests. I thought what fun that must have been for all concerned, and I began imagining what sort of salon I would organize. We have many musical friends, so I would invite them to perform. Some are more classically trained, some are Native friends who play a variety of instruments. The guests would be a hodge-podge of coworkers, church friends, and professional friends. We could have dessert and coffee, finger foods, and snacks. Our living room is pretty small, so we would have to find a community room somewhere so we could have enough space as well as a kitchen. I think it would be lovely.

If money wasn’t a problem, who would you invite to play at a salon you organized?  What would you want them to play? what food would you serve?  Have you read much by Proust?

The Soundtrack of our Lives

Today’s post comes from Steve Grooms.

I’m passionate about music and life, so it is not surprising that the two often meld for me. Certain moments become inextricably associated with the music I was listening to at that time. The most familiar example of this is how couples can have a song or performance that becomes “our” song. But that sort of things happens over and over for people like me. We end up associating music with certain times places we have known. I keep hearing the phrase: “the soundtrack for my life.” And that, for many people, colors how they think of moments from their past.

The worst place I ever lived was a shabby little house on the West Bank near Seven Corners, but that place is also associated with the moment I discovered the music of Leo Kottke at the nearby Scholar Coffeehouse. As awful as that house was, Leo’s music was one of the happiest discoveries of my life. Some of the associations we make are complicated.

Sometimes the soundtrack we can’t help associating with something is wildly inappropriate to anyone else. I discovered the Lord of the Rings trilogy early in grad school. At the same time, I was listening to a lot of Ravi Shankar sitar music. Clearly, the epic trilogy is as thoroughly European and Nordic as Shankar’s music is Indian, but when I read Tolkien I keep hearing sitar music. It is, after all, exotic, and I found the novels exotic.

I think of these matters a lot now because I keep encountering two types of music that are linked in my mind to the pandemic. I discovered the music of the traditional jazz band Tuba Skinny just as the virus reached the US and changed our lives. When I listen to YouTube videos of the band, as I do for maybe an hour each day, I keep reading comments from others who say they could not bear the pandemic without the uplift of Tuba Skinny music.

Similarly, early in the virus shutdown period, Mary Chapin Carpenter began recording Songs from Home. She films herself with her animals (White Kitty and Angus, the golden retriever) at her farm home in Virginia. She delivers her performances (filmed on her phone, I think) with a breathy intimacy that is incredibly calming. Unless you somehow hate her music, I urge you to sample some Songs From Home to read the comments of all the people who say their sole salvation in this difficult time is the music she makes for them.

What about you? What music do you associate with particular moments from your past? Do you have “our song” with anyone?

New Operas

I am not typically a big fan of opera music, but I love the stories they tell. The other day I heard a selection from Nixon in China  by John Adams on MPR. I think it was The Chairman Dances.   I remember seeing a televised performance that opera, and I found the costuming, with all those drab Mao jackets very amusing.

Operas do a good job of immortalizing important moments in history,  and I suppose that Nixon’s breakthrough with China was monumental.  I wonder what the opera repertoire  will be like fifty years from now?

What recent events would you like to see made into operas?  What is your favorite opera?